Fate of Chepstow tourist centre uncertain

PLANS for Chepstow’s tourist information centre (TIC) have only been made for this year and other sources will be required to secure its future, the deputy leader of Monmouthshire council said last week.

Cllr Bob Greenland told a special meeting of Chepstow Town Council that further county council cuts might make running the TIC unviable and that it might need to be devolved to other organisations.

The county council’s chief officer for regeneration and culture Kellie Beirne has proposed that opening times from April until October would be cut to five hours a day from Monday to Friday, and seven hours on Saturdays and Sundays for this year.

Cllr Greenland, who attended the meeting along with officers Roger Hoggins and Will McLean, said: “It’s not really viable for the county council to continue operating [the TIC] with the cuts we have coming forward.”

“What we want to do is to look at all the services we provide and see if there is an opportunity to bring services in a hub. But for this year we will need to cut the hours to what is affordable.”

He said the town council was not being forced to do anything with the TIC now – but that if it wanted to extend opening hours this year or later, they could look to doing it themselves.

And he said if it chose to do anything with the TIC, it could expect to spend £35 per hour.

But Cllr Gerry Rowe told the meeting that to open it for as long as it has been would cost a sixth of the town council’s annual precept.

Cllr Armand Watts told the special meeting of Chepstow town council’s financial policy and audit and town amenities committees there was only so much a “Home Guard” of retired people could do be expected to do and that relying on them to staff services was “fanciful”.

Cllr Peter Farley said he was “reassured” by the plans but that it was important for the town council to consider its own alternative plans over the next year, while Cllr Ned Heywood said any plan to close TICs across the county would be “unbelievably short-sighted”.

The council has proposed that between November and March the centre would be closed from Monday to Friday and that at weekends it would be open for seven hours on Saturdays and Sundays. Two members of staff would work at the TIC all year round.

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